Wilhelm Maybach
Wilhelm Maybach (ˈvɪlhɛlm ˈmaɪbax; 9 February 1846 – 29 December 1929) was an early German engine designer and industrialist. During the 1890s he was hailed in France, then the world centre for car production, as the "King of constructors".

From the late 19th century Wilhelm Maybach, together with Gottlieb Daimler
Gottlieb Daimler
Gottlieb Daimler was an engineer, industrial designer and industrialist born in Schorndorf , in what is now Germany. He was a pioneer of internal-combustion engines and automobile development...

, developed light, high-speed internal combustion engines suitable for land, water, and air use. These were fitted to the world's first motorcycle, motorboat, and after Daimler's death, to a new automobile introduced in late 1902, the Mercedes
Mercedes (car)
Mercedes was a brand of the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft . DMG which began to develop in 1900, after the death of its co-founder, Gottlieb Daimler...

 model, built to the specifications of Emil Jellinek
Emil Jellinek
Emil Jellinek, known after 1903 as Emil Jellinek-Mercedes was a wealthy European entrepreneur who sat on the board of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft between 1900 and 1909. He specified an engine designed there by Wilhelm Maybach and Gottlieb Daimler for the first 'modern' car...


Maybach rose to become technical director of the Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft
Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft
Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft was a German engine and later automobile manufacturer, in operation from 1890 until 1926. Founded by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, it was based first in Cannstatt...

, or DMG, (and never known by the English name of the quite separate English business, The Daimler Motor Company
Daimler Motor Company
The Daimler Motor Company Limited was an independent British motor vehicle manufacturer founded in London by H J Lawson in 1896, which set up its manufacturing base in Coventry. The right to the use of the name Daimler had been purchased simultaneously from Gottlieb Daimler and Daimler Motoren...

) but he did not get on well with its chairmen. As a result Maybach left DMG in 1907 to found Maybach-Motorenbau GmbH
Maybach-Motorenbau GmbH is a German luxury car manufacturer. It was founded in 1909 by Wilhelm Maybach and his son. The company was originally a subsidiary of Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH and was itself known as Luftfahrzeug-Motorenbau GmbH until 1912.Today, the ultra-luxury car brand is owned by...

 together with his son Karl in 1909; they manufactured Zeppelin
A Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship pioneered by the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in the early 20th century. It was based on designs he had outlined in 1874 and detailed in 1893. His plans were reviewed by committee in 1894 and patented in the United States on 14 March 1899...

 engines. After the signing of the Versailles Treaty in 1919 the company started producing large luxury vehicles, branded as "Maybach". The company joined the German war effort in 1940, ceasing automotive production in favour of tank engines, including those for Tiger tank
Tiger I
Tiger I is the common name of a German heavy tank developed in 1942 and used in World War II. The final official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. E, often shortened to Tiger. It was an answer to the unexpectedly formidable Soviet armour encountered in the initial months of...


In 1998 Daimler-Benz merged with Chrysler Corporation to become DaimlerChrysler. The new company revived the Maybach brand name as a luxury make in 2002. On November 25, 2011, Daimler-Benz announced they would cease producing automobiles under the Maybach brand name in 2013.

Early life and career beginnings (1846 to 1869)

Wilhelm Maybach was born in Heilbronn
Heilbronn is a city in northern Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is completely surrounded by Heilbronn County and with approximately 123.000 residents, it is the sixth-largest city in the state....

, Baden-Württemberg
Baden-Württemberg is one of the 16 states of Germany. Baden-Württemberg is in the southwestern part of the country to the east of the Upper Rhine, and is the third largest in both area and population of Germany's sixteen states, with an area of and 10.7 million inhabitants...

 in 1846, the son of a carpenter and his wife Luise. He had four brothers. When he was eight years old the family moved from Löwenstein
Löwenstein is a town in the district of Heilbronn in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It was first mentioned in 1123. The castle of Löwenstein served as a residence for the counts of Löwenstein-Wertheim. In 1634 the castle was destroyed by the imperial forces....

 near Heilbronn to Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

. His mother died in 1856 and his father in 1859.

After his relatives published an announcement in the Stuttgarter Anzeiger newspaper, a philanthropic institution at Reutlingen
Reutlingen is a city in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is the capital of the eponymous district of Reutlingen. As of April 2008, it has a population of 109,828....

 took in Maybach as a student. Its founder and director, Gustav Werner, discovered Maybach's technical inclination and helped to stimulate his career by sending him to the school's engineering workshop. At 15 years old (1861), Maybach was heading for a career in Industrial design
Industrial design
Industrial design is the use of a combination of applied art and applied science to improve the aesthetics, ergonomics, and usability of a product, but it may also be used to improve the product's marketability and production...

 and took extra classes in physics and mathematics at Reutlingen's public high school.

By the time he was 19 years old, he was a qualified designer working on stationary engines. His workshop manager, Gottlieb Daimler, then 29, noticed his efforts and took him on as his main assistant, a post he held until Daimler's death in 1900.

Daimler and Otto's four-stroke engine (1869 to 1880)

In 1869, Maybach followed Daimler to Maschinenbau-Gesellschaft Karlsruhe AG in Karlsruhe
The City of Karlsruhe is a city in the southwest of Germany, in the state of Baden-Württemberg, located near the French-German border.Karlsruhe was founded in 1715 as Karlsruhe Palace, when Germany was a series of principalities and city states...

, a manufacturer of heavy locomotives. Daimler was on the Executive Committee and they spent long nights discussing new designs for engines, pumps, lumber machinery, and metalworking.

In 1872, Daimler moved to Deutz-AG-Gasmotorenfabrik
Deutz AG
Deutz AG is an engine manufacturer, based in Cologne, Germany.-History:The company was founded by Nikolaus Otto, inventor of the four-stroke internal combustion engine, in 1864 as N. A...

 in Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

, then the world's largest manufacturer of stationary gas engines. Nikolaus Otto, part owner of the company, focused on engine development with Daimler. Maybach joined them as Chief Designer.

In 1876, Nikolaus Otto patented the Otto cycle
Otto cycle
An Otto cycle is an idealized thermodynamic cycle which describes the functioning of a typical reciprocating piston engine, the thermodynamic cycle most commonly found in automobile engines....

 engine. It was a four-stroke cycle
Four-stroke cycle
A four-stroke engine, also known as four-cycle, is an internal combustion engine in which the piston completes four separate strokes—intake, compression, power, and exhaust—during two separate revolutions of the engine's crankshaft, and one single thermodynamic cycle.There are two...

 gas internal combustion engine with intake, compression, power, and exhaust strokes. Otto's patent on this engine was later challenged and overturned.

Also in 1876, Maybach was sent to show Deutz's engines at the Philadelphia World's Fair (USA)
World fair
World Fair can refer to:* Expo , a large public exhibition* This World Fair, an American rock band...

. On returning to Cologne in 1877, he concentrated on improving the four-stroke design to get it ready for its impending commercial launch.

In 1878, Maybach married Bertha Wilhelmine Habermaas a friend of Daimler's wife, Emma Kunz. Her family members were landowners who ran the post office in Maulbronn
Maulbronn is a city in the district of Enz in Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany.-History:Founded in 1838, it emerged from a settlement, built around a monastery, which belonged to the Neckar Community in the Kingdom of Württemberg. In 1886, Maulbronn officially became a German town and was an...

. On 6 July 1879 Karl Maybach was born, the first of their three sons.

In 1880, Daimler and Otto had serious disagreements which resulted in Daimler leaving Deutz-AG. Daimler received 112,000 goldmarks
German gold mark
The Goldmark was the currency used in the German Empire from 1873 to 1914.-History:Before unification, the different German states issued a variety of different currencies, though most were linked to the Vereinsthaler, a silver coin containing 16⅔ grams of pure silver...

 in Deutz-AG shares as compensation for patents granted to him and Maybach. Maybach also left shortly afterwards, and followed his friend to found a new company in Cannstatt.

Daimler Motors: fast and small engines (1882)

In 1882, Maybach moved to Taubenheimstrasse in Cannstatt, Stuttgart where Daimler had purchased a house with 75,000 goldmarks from his Deutz compensation. They added a brick extension to the glass-fronted summer house in the garden, which became their workshop.

Their activities alarmed the neighbours who suspected they were engaged in counterfeiting. The police raided the property in their absence using the gardener's key, but found only engines.

In 1884, Maybach's second son, Adolf was born.

The Grandfather Clock engine (1885)

By the end of 1885, Maybach and Daimler developed the first of their engines, which is regarded as a precursor to all modern petrol engines. It featured:
  • single horizontal cylinder
  • air cooling
  • large cast iron flywheel
    A flywheel is a rotating mechanical device that is used to store rotational energy. Flywheels have a significant moment of inertia, and thus resist changes in rotational speed. The amount of energy stored in a flywheel is proportional to the square of its rotational speed...

  • revolutionary hot tube
    Hot-tube ignitor
    A hot-tube ignitor was an early device that fit onto the cylinder head of an internal-combustion engine, used to ignite the compressed fuel/air mixture by means of a flame heating part of the tube red-hot...

     ignition (Patent 28022)
  • exhaust valve
    A valve is a device that regulates, directs or controls the flow of a fluid by opening, closing, or partially obstructing various passageways. Valves are technically pipe fittings, but are usually discussed as a separate category...

     controlled by a camshaft
    A camshaft is a shaft to which a cam is fastened or of which a cam forms an integral part.-History:An early cam was built into Hellenistic water-driven automata from the 3rd century BC. The camshaft was later described in Iraq by Al-Jazari in 1206. He employed it as part of his automata,...

     allowing high speeds
  • a speed of 600 rpm
    Revolutions per minute
    Revolutions per minute is a measure of the frequency of a rotation. It annotates the number of full rotations completed in one minute around a fixed axis...

    , when at the time most engines could only achieve about 120 to 180 rpm.

In 1885, they created the first carburetor
A carburetor , carburettor, or carburetter is a device that blends air and fuel for an internal combustion engine. It is sometimes shortened to carb in North America and the United Kingdom....

, which mixed evaporated gasoline
Gasoline , or petrol , is a toxic, translucent, petroleum-derived liquid that is primarily used as a fuel in internal combustion engines. It consists mostly of organic compounds obtained by the fractional distillation of petroleum, enhanced with a variety of additives. Some gasolines also contain...

 with air to allow its efficient use as fuel. It was used that year on a larger but still compact version of the engine, now with a vertical cylinder, that featured:
  • 1 Horsepower
    Horsepower is the name of several units of measurement of power. The most common definitions equal between 735.5 and 750 watts.Horsepower was originally defined to compare the output of steam engines with the power of draft horses in continuous operation. The unit was widely adopted to measure the...

     at 600 rpm output
  • 100 cc engine displacement
    Engine displacement
    Engine displacement is the volume swept by all the pistons inside the cylinders of an internal combustion engine in a single movement from top dead centre to bottom dead centre . It is commonly specified in cubic centimeters , litres , or cubic inches...

  • non cooled insulated cylinder with unregulated hot-tube ignition (patent DRP-28-022)

Daimler baptized it the Standuhr (Grandfather Clock
Longcase clock
A longcase clock, also tall-case clock, floor clock, or grandfather clock, is a tall, freestanding, weight-driven pendulum clock with the pendulum held inside the tower, or waist of the case. Clocks of this style are commonly 1.8–2.4 metres tall...

) because of its resemblance to a pendulum clock.
In November 1885, Daimler installed a smaller version of the engine into a wooden bicycle, creating the first motorcycle (patent 36-423 - Vehicle with gas or petroleum engine), and Maybach drove it three kilometers from Cannstatt to Untertürkheim, reaching 7.5 mph (12 km/h). It became known as the Reitwagen
Daimler Reitwagen
The Daimler Reitwagen or Einspur was a motor vehicle made by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach in 1885, and is widely recognized as the first motorcycle. Daimler is often called "the father of the motorcycle" for this invention...


On 8 March 1886, the inventors took a stagecoach
A stagecoach is a type of covered wagon for passengers and goods, strongly sprung and drawn by four horses, usually four-in-hand. Widely used before the introduction of railway transport, it made regular trips between stages or stations, which were places of rest provided for stagecoach travelers...

 built by Wilhelm Wimpff & Sohn inside the house, telling the neighbours that it was a birthday gift for Mrs. Daimler. Maybach supervised the installation of an enlarged 1.5 hp Grandfather Clock engine into the coach, and installed a belt drive to the wheels. The vehicle reached 10 mph (15 km/h) when tested on the road to Untertürkheim.

Maybach and Daimler went on to prove the engine in many other ways including:
  • On water (1887). It was mounted in a 4.5-metre-long boat which achieved 6 knots (11 km/h). The boat was called the Neckar
    The Neckar is a long river, mainly flowing through the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, but also a short section through Hesse, in Germany. The Neckar is a major right tributary of the River Rhine...

    after the river it was tested on and was registered as patent number DRP 39-367. Motor boat engines would become their main product until the first decade of the 1900s.
  • More road vehicles including street cars
  • In the air. They built the first motorized airship, a balloon based on designs by Dr. Friedrich Hermann Wölfert
    Friedrich Hermann Wölfert
    Friedrich Hermann Wölfert was a German publisher and aviation pioneer.-Early life:...

     from Leipzig. They replaced his hand operated drive system and flew over Seelberg successfully on 10 August 1888.

By 1887 they were licensing their first patents abroad, and Maybach represented the company at the great Paris Exposition Universelle (1889)
Exposition Universelle (1889)
The Exposition Universelle of 1889 was a World's Fair held in Paris, France from 6 May to 31 October 1889.It was held during the year of the 100th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, an event traditionally considered as the symbol for the beginning of the French Revolution...


First Daimler-Maybach automobile built (1889)

Steel Wheel Automobile 1889
high speed four-stroke petrol engine
fuel vaporization
2 cylinders V-configured
mushroom shaped valves
4 speed toothed gearbox
pioneer axle-pivot steering system

Sales increased, mostly from the Neckar motorboat. In June 1887, Daimler bought land in the Seelberg Hills of Cannstatt. The workshop was some distance from the town on Ludwig Route 67, because Cannstatt's mayor objected to the presence of the workshop in the town. It covered 2,903 square meters and cost 30,200 goldmarks. They initially employed 23 people. Daimler managed the commercial issues and Maybach the design department.

In 1889 they built their first automobile to be designed from scratch rather than as an adaptation of a stagecoach. It was publicly launched by both inventors in Paris in October 1889.

Daimler's engine licenses began to be taken up throughout the world, starting the modern car industry in:
  • France, 1890, Panhard & Levassor
    Panhard is currently a French manufacturer of light tactical and military vehicles. Its current incarnation was formed by the acquisition of Panhard by Auverland in 2005. Panhard had been under Citroën ownership, then PSA , for 40 years...

     and Peugeot
    Peugeot is a major French car brand, part of PSA Peugeot Citroën, the second largest carmaker based in Europe.The family business that precedes the current Peugeot company was founded in 1810, and manufactured coffee mills and bicycles. On 20 November 1858, Emile Peugeot applied for the lion...

  • United Kingdom, 1896, The Daimler Motor Company of Coventry
  • United States of America, 1891, Steinway
    Steinway may refer to:* Steinway & Sons, an American and German piano manufacturer* Steinway Hall, a building housing concert halls, showrooms and sales departments for Steinway & Sons pianos* Steinway D-274, the concert grand piano by Steinway & Sons...

  • Austro-Daimler
    Austro-Daimler was an Austrian automaker company, from 1899 until 1934. It was subsidiary of the German Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft .-Early history:...

     in Austria, starting in 1899

Daimler's "pact with the devil", DMG, and the Phoenix engine (1890 to 1900)

Resources were scant to keep the business going as neither the engine sales nor the worldwide proceeds from their patents were yielding enough money. Fresh capital was injected by bringing in the financiers Max von Duttenhofer and William Lorenz
William Lorenz
William F. Lorenz, M.D. was a Major in the United States Army Medical Corps during World War I. He was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal for his combat actions in France...

, former munitions makers, who were associated with Kilian von Steiner
Kilian von Steiner
Kilian von Steiner was a German banker and industrialist.Born in Laupheim as the eighth child of Jewish merchant Viktor Steiner and his wife Sophie, Kilian Steiner spent his youth in the small Upper Swabian town...

 owner of a German investment bank. The company was taken public.

In 1890, Daimler and Maybach together founded the Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft, the Daimler Motor Company or DMG for short, which was dedicated to the construction of small high speed internal combustion engines for land, water, or air transport. Maybach was Chief Designer. After spending long hours debating which fuel was best to use in Otto's four-stroke engine, which had normally used methane gas
Methane is a chemical compound with the chemical formula . It is the simplest alkane, the principal component of natural gas, and probably the most abundant organic compound on earth. The relative abundance of methane makes it an attractive fuel...

 as a fuel, they turned to petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 which until then had been used mainly as a cleaner and sold in pharmacies.

The company's re-foundation took place on 28 November 1890. This has been regarded as a "pact with the devil" by some German historians, as the following decade was chaotic for Daimler and Maybach. DMG continued to expand, selling engines from Moscow to New York, and additional stationary engine-making capacity was added, but the belief continued that automobile production wouldn't be profitable. The new chairmen planned to merge DMG and Deutz-AG, in spite of Gottlieb's disagreement with Nikolaus Otto.

Daimler and Chief Engineer Maybach preferred to produce automobiles and reacted against Duttenhofer and Lorenz in particular. Maybach was rejected as a member of the Board of Management and left the company on 11 February 1891, and continued his design work from his own house, financed by Gottlieb Daimler. In late 1892, he set up a shop in the ballroom of the former Hermann Hotel and Winter Garden where he employed 17 workers, five of which were paid by Daimler.

In 1894 Maybach designed his third engine model, together with Daimler and his son Paul. Used in the Phoenix, it gained worldwide attention, pioneering the use of four cylinders in the automobile and featuring:
  • single block casting of cylinders, arranged vertically and parallel to each other
  • camshaft controlled exhaust valves
  • spray-nozzle carburetor (patented by Maybach in 1893)
  • improved belt drive

Some of these cars gained first place in the petrol engine category in the first auto race in history, the Paris to Rouen 1894.

Maybach's creations are considered some of the finest motors of the second half of the 19th century. His inventions became indispensable for any model by any automaker in the world. He became recognised as the backbone of France's early automobile industry where he was hailed as the "King of Constructors".

Daimler was forced out of his post as Technical Director at DMG and resigned in 1893, which damaged DMG's prestige. However, in 1894, a British industrialist, Frederick Simms, purchased the rights to the Phoenix engine for 350,000 marks and stabilised the companies finances. He also made it a condition that Daimler was re-employed. In 1895 DMG assembled its 1,000th engine, and Maybach also returned as Chief Engineer, obtaining 30,000 Goldmark worth of shares through his original contract with Gottlieb Daimler.

Maybach patented more automobile inventions including:
  • a revolutionary cooling system, tubular radiator
    Radiator (engine cooling)
    Radiators are used for cooling internal combustion engines, mainly in automobiles but also in piston-engined aircraft, railway locomotives, motorcycles, stationary generating plant or any similar use of such an engine....

     with fan
  • the honeycomb radiator

Around this time though Maybach suffered two setbacks. His teenage second son, Adolf, suffered a schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a disintegration of thought processes and of emotional responsiveness. It most commonly manifests itself as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social...

 attack and spent the rest of his life in various mental institutions (In 1940 he was murdered by the Nazis
National Socialist German Workers Party
The National Socialist German Workers' Party , commonly known in English as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1920 and 1945. Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party , existed from 1919 to 1920...

 as part of the Euthanasia Program). In 1900, Gottlieb Daimler died of heart disease.

Daimler-Mercedes engine of 1900

Mercedes 35 hp (1902)
Large wheelbase. Wide track
Pressed steel framework. Lightweight metals
Low center of gravity (lower engine)
75 km/h (45 mph). 35 hp (950 rpm)
300 to 1000 rpm (driver controlled)
Light and high performance engine: 4 in-line cylinders
Bore/stroke ratio: 116x140 mm
Displacement: 5918 cc
Cylinder heads part of the castings
Two carburetors, one for each cylinder pair
Driver controlled intake valve throttling
Two camshafts
4-forward/1-reverse transmission
Low voltage ignition magnetos
Aluminium crankcase (pioneer), horizontally divided
Honeycomb radiator
Comfortable ride

Between April and October 1900, Maybach designed a completely new kind of car inspired by racing which would be called the Mercedes 35 hp
Mercedes 35 hp
The Mercedes 35 hp was a radical early car model designed in 1901 by Wilhelm Maybach and Paul Daimler, for Emil Jellinek. Produced in Stuttgart, Germany, by the Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft , it began the Mercedes line of cars .A significant advancement over the previous generation of...

 when released in 1902. It featured:
  • long wheelbase
  • wide track
  • low height
  • unheard-of power from its 35 hp engine allowing it to reach 40 mph (64,4 km/h).

Emil Jellinek
Emil Jellinek
Emil Jellinek, known after 1903 as Emil Jellinek-Mercedes was a wealthy European entrepreneur who sat on the board of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft between 1900 and 1909. He specified an engine designed there by Wilhelm Maybach and Gottlieb Daimler for the first 'modern' car...

, a successful Austrian dealer and racing driver on the French Riviera
French Riviera
The Côte d'Azur, pronounced , often known in English as the French Riviera , is the Mediterranean coastline of the southeast corner of France, also including the sovereign state of Monaco...

 who greatly admired Maybach's work, promised to buy a shipment of 36 automobiles for 550,000 goldmarks if Maybach could design a great race car for him following his specifications.

The prototype was finished in December 1900 and, in 1901 went on to have a string of racing successes. Its engine was baptized Daimler-Mercedes (Spanish for mercy) after Mercedes Jellinek
Mércédès Jellinek
Mercédès Adriana Manuela Ramona Jellinek called Mercédès was the daughter of Austrian automobile entrepreneur Emil Jellinek and his wife Rachel Goggmann Cenrobert. She was born on September 16, 1889 and named as a term of endearment Mercedes...

, Emil's 10–year–old daughter. European high society bought the car in large numbers making it the commercial success that convinced the company directors there was a future in automobiles. Production increased greatly and DMG rapidly increased in size and number of employees. DMG officially registered the Mercedes trademark in June 1902.

In 1902, a fire destroyed DMG's Cannstatt facilities and the company moved to Stuttgart-Untertürkheim. Maybach continued with his innovations:
  • a 6-cylinder/70 hp engine (1903–04)
  • a pioneer aircraft engine: a high speed racing engine of 120 hp, with overhead inlet and exhaust valves and double ignition
    Ignition system
    An ignition system is a system for igniting a fuel-air mixture. Ignition systems are well known in the field of internal combustion engines such as those used in petrol engines used to power the majority of motor vehicles, but they are also used in many other applications such as in oil-fired and...


DMG demoted him to an "Inventor's Office" causing him to leave the company again in 1907. DMG replaced him with Paul Daimler. That same year, the German Engineers Association (VDI) recognized Wilhelm Maybach as an honorary member.

Zeppelin engines (1908)

In 1900, Maybach had had his first contact with Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin
Ferdinand von Zeppelin
Ferdinand Adolf Heinrich August Graf von Zeppelin was a German general and later aircraft manufacturer. He founded the Zeppelin Airship company...

 who sought to improve the engines of the Zeppelin LZ1 airship. Maybach built some engines for him based on sketches of a 150 hp unit created by his son, Karl, while at DMG.

In 1908, Count Zeppelin attempted to sell his models LZ3 and LZ4 to the government. On 5 August, LZ4 exploded against a row of trees after attempting an emergency landing when its engines failed. This was far from being the end for the airship project as 6.25 million goldmarks were raised in a donation campaign after the accident. Count Zeppelin founded the Luftschiffbau Zeppelin
Luftschiffbau Zeppelin
Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH is a German company which, during the early 20th century, was a leader in the design and manufacture of rigid airships, specifically of the Zeppelin type. The company was founded by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin...

 GmbH, the company that built the Zeppelin airships.

Maybach had to hold off joining the new company for a while as he was still in litigation with DMG so Karl took his place. On 23 March 1909, a deal was finally signed, creating an engine subsidiary to Luftschiffbau Zeppelin at Bissingen
Bissingen is a municipality in the district of Dillingen in Bavaria in Germany....

/Enz, in Württemberg
Württemberg , formerly known as Wirtemberg or Wurtemberg, is an area and a former state in southwestern Germany, including parts of the regions Swabia and Franconia....

. Wilhelm Maybach was Technical Assistant and Karl was Technical Manager. Their first designs reached 72 km/h (45 mph).

Wilhelm Maybach moved his company to Friedrichshafen
This article is about a German town. For the Danish town, see Frederikshavn, and for the Finnish town, see Fredrikshamn .Friedrichshafen is a university city on the northern side of Lake Constance in Southern Germany, near the borders with Switzerland and Austria.It is the district capital of the...

 and renamed it Luftfahrzeug-Motoren-GmbH. Karl and Wilhem held 20% of the shares with an arrangement for Karl to inherit. They kept supplying Zeppelin, but worked on other airship engines too. In 1912, the company adopted the name Maybach-Motorenbau GmbH (Maybach Engine Construction Company). In 1916, they developed a 160 hp aircraft engine which sold 2000 units before the end of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. In 1916, Wilhelm Maybach was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Technical University of Stuttgart
University of Stuttgart
The University of Stuttgart is a university located in Stuttgart, Germany. It was founded in 1829 and is organized in 10 faculties....


Maybach automobiles (1922)

After the First World War, the Versailles Treaty of 1919 prohibited airship production in Germany so Maybach turned to making high-speed diesel engines for naval and railroad use, and petrol engines for automobiles, but not complete automobiles.

Many of the small automakers in Germany built their own engines for cost reasons and only the Dutch Spyker
Spyker was a Dutch car manufacturer, started in 1880 by coachbuilders Jacobus and Hendrik-Jan Spijker, but to be able to market the brand better in foreign countries, in 1903 the 'ij' was changed into 'y'...

 company was interested in taking Maybach engines. Wilhelm Maybach turned down the contract because he could not agree to its conditions. Instead, he opted to build complete automobiles and the factory began to produce Maybach limousines in 1921.

The first model, the Maybach W3, was shown at the 1921 Automobile Exposition in Berlin and featured
  • 6 cylinder engine
  • 4-wheel brakes
  • new transmission system
  • maximum speed of 105 kilometre per hour

It was produced until 1928, selling 300 units, mostly with sedan bodies; the two-seat sport version was less successful. The Maybach W5 followed, with the top speed increased to 135 kilometre per hour; 250 units sold in 1927 and 1929.

Next Maybach produced the V12 car:
  • the first 12-cylinder German automobile
  • lightweight aluminium engine based on his airship work
  • light alloy pistons
  • 7-litre capacity
  • high torque and power - 150 hp at 2,800 rpm

Only a few dozen were sold due to the German postwar economic crisis. In 1930, its successor, the DS7-Zeppelin, also featured a 12 cylinder engine of 7 liters.

In August 1929, the Zeppelin LZ-127 used five Maybach-V12 petrol engines of 550 hp each.

Neither Wilhelm nor Karl owned a Maybach automobile. Wilhelm never even owned a car. "He, who created the basics for the modern automobilism, rarely utilized a car for his personal purposes. He walked or took the tram. Although he could have afforded one, he did not own a car."

Final years of DMG (1924–1929)

By 1924 DMG was suffering from the post war economic crisis and under pressure from the banks, it began the process that would result in a merger with Karl Benz
Karl Benz
Karl Friedrich Benz, was a German engine designer and car engineer, generally regarded as the inventor of the gasoline-powered car, and together with Bertha Benz pioneering founder of the automobile manufacturer Mercedes-Benz...

's Benz & Cie., Rheinische Gasmotorenfabrik Mannheim in 1926 to form Daimler-Benz
Daimler-Benz AG was a German manufacturer of automobiles, motor vehicles, and internal combustion engines; founded in 1926. An Agreement of Mutual Interest - which was valid until year 2000 - was signed on 1 May 1924 between Karl Benz's Benz & Cie., and Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft, which had...


Wilhelm Maybach died at the age of 83 in Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

 on 29 December 1929.


  • Wilhelm Maybach was accepted into the Automotive Hall of Fame
    Automotive Hall of Fame
    The Automotive Hall of Fame is an American museum and hall of fame covering automotive innovations.-Location:Located in the metro Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan, the museum shares a parking lot with The Henry Ford.-External links:*...

     in 1996.
  • Three technical Schools in Germany are named Wilhelm Maybach: Stuttgart, Heilbronn
    Heilbronn is a city in northern Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is completely surrounded by Heilbronn County and with approximately 123.000 residents, it is the sixth-largest city in the state....

    , and Berlin
    Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

    Spandau is the fifth of the twelve boroughs of Berlin. It is the fourth largest and westernmost borough, situated at the confluence of the Havel and Spree rivers and along the western bank of the Havel, but the least populated.-Overview:...

  • In 2002, Daimler AG began to produce models under the Maybach name.
  • In 2005, in honor of his grandfather Karl and his great-grandfather Wilhelm, Ulrich Schmid-Maybach founded the Wilhelm and Karl Maybach Foundation
    Maybach Foundation
    The Wilhelm and Karl Maybach Foundation is a 501 non-profit organization that seeks to improve the world through mentoring, by fostering and overseeing mentorships. The organization links mentors with protégés worldwide, and fosters and oversees those relationships...


External links

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